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Rem Koolhaas and Dasha Zhukova are to design Moscow Museum

Yesterday, Tony Perrottet of the Wall Street Journal wrote of his visit to Moscow where he met up with the renowned Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas and Russian born art impresario Dasha Zhukova who took him on a tour through Gorky Park, the site of the two’s latest collaboration. They led him, through the once poor looking and neglected park with debris of carnival rides and waste that has now been renovated back to its former glory, all the way to the new home of the Garage Museum of Contemporary Arts.

The Garage emerged in 2008 as a joint effort of Zhukova and her husband Roman Abramovich. The institution being the first of its kind to specialize in contemporary art is also regarded as the gate that has widely opened to introduce Russians to the vivid world which is the global art scene.


Photography by Nicholas Alan Cope

The new home for the Garage – which will open in June – was originally built as a restaurant that saw its final days with the fall of the U.S.S.R in the early 1990’s. Now the building is a graffiti covered concrete bunker according to the author who pointed out that the artists decided to preserve the current state of the building. “The building is basically a found object,” said Koolhaas, pointing with approval at the battered pillars and gaping holes. “We are embracing it as it is.” “Here, we are not restoring the building. We are preserving its decay.” was how Koolhaas described his approach towards the building. Personally I applaud this approach which in my own point of view preserves the layers of art expression that the building gained through the years and highlights it as a piece of art itself.

Koolhaas also expressed his satisfaction with the size of this building as well as his disagreement with the continuing increase in the size of art museums, referencing Frank Gehry’s design for the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi which is almost 8 times bigger than the Garage’s new home.


Museum photography by Nicholas Alan Cope

Perrottet then joined Zhukova for a coffee break where she explained to him her inter-cultural past and told him of her debut in the art scene, as well as her first trips back to Russia and the vibe she felt in the people and the country as a whole. Zhukova also explains the Garage’s focus on the generation that is shaping the Russian future as her core audiences are between 18 and 35 years old.

The article goes on to explain how different Moscow and its art scene seemed to the author from when he last visited 20 years ago. The art scene, like the city, is much richer now and a lot more accessible as more foreigners as well as Russians are showing an ever increasing interest in the art scene, and finding it a lot more satisfying to invest in. More and more artists are finding platforms to voice and present their art easily.


Museum photography by Nicholas Alan Cope

According to the article, Michael Govan, the director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, stated “Ever since I met her – referring to Dasha Zhukova – in her early 20s, she has had a passion for contemporary art and genuinely feels it can improve society. For many people, it is a link to the broader world and the creative spirit.”

Perrottet concludes his article with the words of Anton Belov, the museum director, who explained the hardships that faces the future of the art scene in Russia as it is affected by the political situation which consequentially is causing difficulties in providing art loans from other countries. Belov states “Every day, new things are happening in Moscow,” Belov muses. “I think within a decade, it could be as important an art center as New York or London. But this is Russia. You never know what will happen tomorrow.”

By:Niehal Qadry 

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